Mighty Red Pen

November 19, 2012

I saw the sign

Filed under: Pop culture,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 7:08 pm
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This sentence is possibly one of the most tortured pieces of writing I have come across in a long, long time. It appeared in an article about a recent performance Aerosmith gave outside the Boston apartment building they used to live in back in the day.

“Across the street from 1325 Commonwealth Ave. is a sign that Aerosmith band members wrote in a book they would see when they walked out the front door of their apartment building during the early 1970s.”

Here’s the problem: this poor little sentence is trying to do too many things at once. Is it a sign they wrote in a book? Is it a book they would see when they walked out the front door of their apartment building? Or is it neither of these? My red pen is itching to get at it.

From the rest of the article, we find out that it’s a sign they would see when they walked out of their apartment and that they wrote about in a book. But that’s a long way to get there from here. With a little editing, this sentence could be pared down and reordered to reflect that, something like this (for example):

“Across the street from 1325 Commonwealth Ave. is a sign that Aerosmith band members would see when they walked out the front door of the apartment building, which they lived in during the early 1970s. They wrote about seeing the sign in their book.”

But unfortunately, that’s a lot less interesting than the idea of them writing a sign in a book they would see when they walked out of their apartment. And hey, it was Aerosmith, and it was the 1970s. Anything was possible.

April 13, 2010

A near miss

Filed under: Overseen,Pop culture — mighty red pen @ 6:57 pm
Tags: , ,

So I’m more of a word person, not much of a math person, but even I could figure out there was something off when I spotted this caption on a photo for a story about John Tesh admitting that he and Oprah Winfrey had  a relationship during the 1970s.

See where it says “57-year-old Tesh” and the “nearly 40 years ago”? Well, I suppose that could be true, but that would make Tesh “about 17″ and the 56-year-old Winfrey “about 16″ when they had their affair “nearly 40 years ago.”

Um, ew.

Okay, okay: I imagine that the relationship occurred later during the seventies, when Tesh and Winfrey were in their twenties. I’m thinking this would have been toward the later part of the seventies, rather than 1970 (which is what year it would have to have been for it to be 40 years ago). And nearly (according to our friends at Merriam Webster) means “almost but not quite.” Does later in the decade still constitute nearly?

I’d say this caption is nearly accurate.

December 1, 2009

When the cows come home

Filed under: Overseen,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 8:53 pm
Tags: ,

Take a gander at the caption for this photo that appeared on wbztv.com. For those of you not from the area, the “Coakley” of the caption actually refers to Martha Coakley, candidate for Massachusetts’ open U.S. Senate seat. Unfortunate oversight or political bias? You decide:

I’m sort of sorry to say that this caption has since been corrected.

h/t JG.

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